Australian consumers remain enthusiastic adopters of digital payments, with more than 80% having used technologies like digital wallets, QR codes, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), cryptocurrencies, biometrics and others in the last year.

What’s more, around half (51%) increased their usage of at least one digital payment method during the same period, demonstrating momentum.

The latest data on payment habits, attitudes and preferences was published today in Mastercard’s second annual New Payments Index (NPI), a global consumer survey spanning five regions and 40 markets, including Australia and six others in the Asia Pacific.

While the pandemic was the catalyst for the rapid uptake of digital payments, the latest research indicates that the change has been lasting, with 44% of survey respondents in Australia cutting back on their use of cash payments in the last year.

Australian consumers’ appetite for seamless, convenient, and secure digital payment methods has continued to grow, however, respondents indicated that they had reservations about the security and institutional backing of new options.

In fact, when deciding which payment method to use, security (56%) had the greatest influence on consumer choice, beating out rewards (30%), discounts/promotions (28%), and low interest rates (21%).

“While the pandemic accelerated the adoption of new payment technologies, Mastercard’s research shows that Australians have consistently demonstrated a willingness to embrace innovative, digital payment options,” Mastercard division president Australasia, Richard Wormald said.

“The survey findings also reinforced the need for businesses to provide choice to meet consumer needs and expectations, both online and offline. Mastercard is at the forefront of this evolution, focused on providing safe, secure and seamless payment technology, when, where and how Australians choose to shop and pay.”

Australia is ahead of the curve with BNPL usage, as one third (33%) of consumers say they used in the past year, while only 21% of consumers globally have used these installment plans. In particular, consumers in Australia are drawn to BNPL offerings for their low/no interest payments, in times of emergency and when they want to expedite bigger purchases.

Looking ahead, almost half (45%) in Australia say they are likely to use BNPL in the next year. At the same time, building trust and comfort is key as Australian consumers feel safer using BNPL solutions backed by a major payment network (60%) or their existing bank (56%), rather than from other providers.